27 January, 2020

Blog

Gamini Dissanayake, The Miracle-Maker; The Robert Kennedy Of Sri Lanka

By Palitha Pelpola

Palitha Pelpola

Palitha Pelpola

Gamini Dissanayake’s birth anniversary fell on March 20. Commenting on the assassination of John Kennedy in 1963 in Dulles, Texas, Marian Wright Edelman, President and Founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, stated thus: “So much of the deep lingering sadness over President Kennedy’s assassination is about the unfinished promise, unspoken speeches, unfulfilled hopes, the wondering about what might have been.” Those words would have been truer about Gamini Dissanayake.

Many eulogies have been delivered by world leaders of our era praising the gutty and determined President Kennedy. A man whose footprints are embedded as a rock in the shifting sands of time and history, John Kennedy was a leader par excellence. In a world that was then caught up in a quagmire of cold war, with the then Soviet Union feverishly hostile to America on all fronts- economic, military and culture- the USA lent leadership to the West that consisted of an array of post-World War Two leaders of the caliber of De Galle of France, Harold McMillan and Alec Douglas Home of Great Britain and Konrad Adenauer of West Germany.

John Kennedy’s brother, Robert (Bob), however, was different, in that Bobby’s apparent air of ultra-liberalism, his open acceptance of ‘Black America’ as an integral part of the whole American nation and advancing the cause of equality among drastically diverse communities in the southern states of America where more than fifty percent of the African-American population lives, were indeed a fresh wind sweeping across all parts of the USA. Bobby Kennedy was a man ahead of his time.

Gamini DissanayakeIf Bob Kennedy was a man ahead his time in that part in the West, Gamini Dissanayake was a man ahead of his time in this part of the world. Gamini’s credentials were impeccable. His political genius had no equal at the time and to date stands unique and unmatched. What brought Gamini Dissanayake to such great heights? How did he manage to win an election in 1970 in Nuwara Eliya when most of the stalwarts of the United National Party (UNP) were routed out of power? As a newcomer into politics, Gamini secured the seat of Nuwara Eliya against a sitting MP. Of course, one cannot understate the fact that Gamini’s campaign was managed and run with ruthless efficiency by his brother-in-law, Dr. Wickrema Weerasooria, a name that came to be feared by his political rivals in the late Nineteen Seventies and Eighties as one person who introduced a totally new campaign culture and transformed the art of election-campaigning into a science.

Wickrema apart, Gamini’s charisma took the nation by storm when he took a seat in the then Opposition in Parliament. His prowess with words, either Sinhala or English, under the guidance of Dudley Senanayake and J R Jayewardene, in and out of Parliament, was second only to another firebrand orator, R Premadasa.

Oratory is one part of a clever politician. But oratory alone does not make a complete politician. His or her rhetoric must essentially be matched with action, policies, principles and authenticity to achieve any degree of success. ‘Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man’, Francis Bacon said. In terms of Bacon’s characterization, Gamini fulfilled all aspects of a man being full, ready and exact. He not only was eminently credentialed to be full, ready and exact, what set him apart from the politicians of today was that he went out of his way to make each and everyone around him also attain those lordly heights. His reading habits, his extraordinary ability to converse and instill in others his point of view and his superlative writing skills would have made today’s politicians look mere amateurs and utterly puny tyros in an unforgiving arena of hardnosed professionals.

What was promised by Bob Kennedy to America in the Nineteen Sixties, Gamini, in a very fundamental sense, held out to Sri Lanka in the late Nineteen Seventies, Eighties and Nineties.Bobby Kennedy would have been the ‘first Black President’ of the USA- so they say- had he not been gunned down by Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, in 1968 during the Presidential Primaries. Had Gamini Dissanayake not been killed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) in 1994, he might well have been dubbed as the one leader Sri Lanka had who delivered the country from the Twentieth Century to the Twenty First. The projection he held out to the settler families in Kalawewa in the early Eighties that computer science and English language as the defining subjects of our future generations and his vigorous efforts to promote those subjects among those who followed higher studies at the time are fondly remembered by his colleagues in politics and staff in the two Ministries that he was in charge of.

Completing the gigantic Mahaweli program in six short years, initiation and granting of Swarnabhumi lands to the landless and winning ‘Test’ status for Sri Lanka’s cricket are no mean miracles. All these feats were game changers. If not for the Mahaweli program and its capacity to produce a critically significant amount of hydropower, Sri Lanka today would still be dwelling in darkness; had the Swarnabhumi land scheme not been implemented, a third revolution by the rural youth might have overpowered the prime movers of power in Sri Lanka and of course, without ‘Test’ status, the plight of Sri Lankan cricket would have been just a footnote in the pages of cricketing history. While the last twenty years in Sri Lanka did not see a single major development scheme (except of course the end of the ethnic war) it took Gamini Dissanayake only thirteen years to radically change the lives of ordinary men and women for the better. In thirteen short years he changed the history and geography of Sri Lanka.

The unique feature in the changes that Gamini brought about is that their effects were felt by the local population almost immediately. When the massive headworks programs that included, among others, Victoria, Kotmale (now named after Gamini Dissanayake himself), Randenigala, Rantembe, Maduru Oya and Ulhitiya were undertaken, all the local contracts from gravelling of byroads to preparation of meal packets for the workers were handled by indigenous Sri Lankan companies and individuals. Trickle-down effects of a thriving economy were enjoyed by the village folks.

Gamini stood before the windswept landscape of the Kalawewa Tanks and under the shadows of the serene and sublime Aukana Buddha statue, addressed the students of the ‘H’ area (as the area that is enriched with the Mahaweli waters in the Anuradhapura district is called), the children of original settlers who were given land in the downstream Mahaweli program, and prophesized: “You cannot enter the Twenty First Century as educated and worthy men and women if you are not equipped with the knowledge of English language and computer science. So remember, enrich your language skills and get smart with computer awareness”. And thanks mainly to the dogged efforts of Mrs. Srima Dissanayake (Gamini’s widow), today the Gamini Dissanayake Institute of Technology and Vocational Studies in Nuwara Eliya, which was started in 1995, is continuing to contribute its mite to Gamini’s prophesy.

Gamini Dissanayake was a great stalwart of the free market economy and Social Democracy. His commitment to the cause he undertook to pursue and his liberal outlook of society and politics placed him above the rest. He was not a giant among pigmies; on the contrary, he stood tall among the tallest and commanded the respect of his rivals as well as his followers. Once christened as a ‘nation builder’ by J N Dixit, the then Indian envoy in Sri Lanka, Gamini indeed was a monumental figure in Sri Lanka’s politics of the second half of the Twentieth Century. Today the young generation might not know him as one whole generation born after his death has come of age, but their parent generation will remember him with unreserved delight and awe.

Robert Kennedy’s memory is fast waning in the United States of America. Yet the hope and promise that he held for the American people continue to inspire and motivate all Americans to aim even higher. Kennedy died when he was fully engaged in a Presidential Primary campaign. What was lost to America is immeasurable and had he lived, he would have won the Democratic nomination and then Presidency. Had Gamini lived, he had more than a fighting chance to win that election in 1994. What was lost to Sri Lanka is immense and beyond compare. When swirling winds sweep across the Mahaweli development fields, when a single light bulb is turned on in the remotest hamlet, when a home is constructed on a Swarnabhumi-grant land, when a square cut or a cover drive is exquisitely executed by a Sri Lankan cricketer on a world cricket field, the echo that pierces the blue skies are the unheard chants of victory that we never had the good fortune to hear and applaud. That echo would continue to meander in the lonely skies and desolate landscapes in Sri Lanka.

Gamini we love you.

May you attain Nibbana!

*The write may be contacted at palithapelpola@gmail.com

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 19
    5

    Gamini Dissanayake was in Jaffna on the night of 31 May 1981!

    • 3
      11

      so what?

      • 8
        2

        ballah

        “so what?”

        Who Let The Dogs Out

        Who let the dogs out

        {Woof, woof, woof, woof}
        {Woof, woof, woof, woof}
        {Woof, woof, woof, woof}
        {Woof, woof, woof, woof}

        [Chorus:]
        Who let the dogs out {woof, woof, woof, woof}
        Who let the dogs out {woof, woof, woof, woof}

        {Woof, woof, woof, woof}

        • 1
          3

          vedda, i was looking for an idiot to comment, you didn’t disappoint me

          • 3
            1

            ballah

            “vedda, i was looking for an idiot to comment, you didn’t disappoint me”

            So you were looking for another ballah with same level of IQ, intellect, stupidity, …..

            I can recommend Dimwit Jim Softy, sachooooooooo the stupid II, Nuisance the stupid I, HLD M, ramona grandma therese fernando, Palitha Pelpola, ………..

            • 1
              3

              vedda, i know you are hurt for being called an idiot…your foolishness is beyond expectation…

      • 6
        3

        Balla the dog, didn’t I tell you to go and pee by a tree? Did you do it? Filth like you should exterminated from the face of this earth. Gamini with the other hoodlum from the JR government was burning the Jaffna library, that is what the previous post meant.

        • 2
          7

          tamil from north, you type that you’re a tamil from north…but i’m sure that you’re a janitor from the west…gamini should have wiped out tamils from jaffna in 1981

          • 3
            3

            Balla the dog from the south, yes I am one proud Tamil from the north where we kept our dogs like you in their holes. Tamils are there to stay and learn to accept it or they will find you and put a clobbering on such filth like you. I am janitor from the west? I have done amazingly well as I have a computer. Gamini is pariah and he died a pariah. Is this why you filth had to fight 30,000 LTTE fellows for 30 odd years? You fought and then lost, then you brought the IPKF and they were slaughtered and ran away, then you fought and lost again and then you brought China, the filthy Indians, Pakistani and Ukrainian pilots fought and won. Wow, you filth had to go through all this to win. I don’s care for the LTTE even a bit, but the buggers surely put a thrashing on garbage like you. So shut the f&*& up you snivelling little piece of crap.

            • 2
              3

              tamil from north aka janitor from west, glad to hear you have a computer in your one room shanty…we won the war over tamils are they were slaughtered like pigs in nandikadaal lagoon…please have my condolences for the perished loved ones of yours in nandikadaal lagoon

              forgot to tell you they were on knees begging to spare them and crying like babies…but sorry we had to send them to see their gods in hell

              • 2
                1

                Balla, the stray dog of the streets, Tamils and other minorities are there to stay whether you howl or bark. Global Pariah like you can only go on a computer to write vile garbage. You will never try another BS riot, since you will be slaughtered. Don’t go and tell people the embarrassing story where you had to bring foreign army to fight a local civil war. Me a janitor, hahahaha. Why, is your present life bothering you mongrel? Pariahs like you should be shot on the street, you are a vermin bastard. Lick your wounds and move on you little piece of sh*&, otherwise get another verbal thrashing. We sent some racist sakiliyas like you in the west where they belong. You can only bark like this only in your desolate village. If I see you bark or howl even once, I will be back to shut you down you filth.

      • 2
        0

        Balla, so what?????

        What would a stray dog understand what a library is for?

    • 6
      13

      Great man.

      This is the type of leaders SL needs. Let there be more of him.

      • 4
        6

        @Rizwan

        Be careful about your wishes; They may become true.

      • 1
        0

        And Ronnie De Mel needs to be remembered for finding the finances for the gigantic projects and for trying to curb the 83 riots.

        Project Mahaweli however ensured the extinction of the indigenous culture and population.

        • 3
          3

          Arnold

          “And Ronnie De Mel needs to be remembered for finding the finances for the gigantic projects and for trying to curb the 83 riots.”

          Ronnie De Mel was the first one to recommend a Bhumiputra system of governance in this island, curtailing the ability to create wealth and hold on to it, of the Tamils, just like Malaysia.

          • 2
            0

            Bhumiputra suggestion aside, De Mel did find the finances and tried to curb the riots.

          • 2
            0

            If Ronnie De Mel recommended that after losing thousands of acres in the 70s, he is magnanimous.

            Malaysia is a success story, compare it with neighbour Indonesia, Asia and the world.
            It would have empowered most communities of SL as all communities prior to the arrival of the British colonialists are classified ‘Bhumiputra’.
            (That is the Sinhalese, SL TAMILS, SL Muslims, SL Bhughers, Kaffirs at the expense of foreign and probably Indian Tamils).

            The Bhumiputra system of Malaysia has empowered the indigenous people.
            We see through your ‘native’, using the Veddha name in vain.

            • 2
              2

              Arnold

              “It would have empowered most communities of SL as all communities prior to the arrival of the British colonialists are classified ‘Bhumiputra’.”

              Mel knew what he was talking about. Please stop giving his racist ideas a human touch.

              “The Bhumiputra system of Malaysia has empowered the indigenous people.”

              The system of Bhumiputra only made the lazy people lazier, alienated people, denied equality equal opportunity, encouraged Bhumiputra brand of corruption, a curse on unleashing potential of every person, ….. a good place to hide crooks.

              Who are the indigenous people of this island?

              • 1
                0

                I take the Malaysian version, not your opinion

        • 1
          1

          Arnold

          “And Ronnie De Mel needs to be remembered for finding the finances for the gigantic projects and for trying to curb the 83 riots.”

          More than 65% (£113 M) of the total cost was paid by the UK tax payers as grand.

          • 1
            0

            Yes, Ronnie requested that

            • 2
              0

              Jayasinha

              “Yes, Ronnie requested that”

              So UK gave a grant to Ronie and in turn he gave to the state.

    • 6
      0

      Robert Kennedy must be turning in his grave if he read this

  • 12
    9

    I think Basil Rajapaske was mentored by Gamini Dissanayake.

    Both were prolific in delivering large scale infrastructure projects. That is perhaps the dynamic that is needed again.

    Building things re-invigorates the economy and spreads the wealth much quicker. They did the same thing in China.

    However the identification of requirements need to be more scientific. The awarding of contracts should also be more transparent.

    • 4
      0

      And development minister to have educational qualifications?

    • 3
      1

      “Building things re-invigorates the economy and spreads the wealth much quicker. They did the same thing in China.”

      Therefore President Xi is bulldozing the newly created golf courses and handing them back to the farmers while the civil servants involved are running for to Australia using VIP immigration policy (90% of them get it)

      Deconstruction also makes re-invigorates the economy.

      Through out this world architects/structural engineer development planners have found
      doctors and accounts as their best clients in many ways.

      Development is mafia art because it carries votes. Basil was a super spin doctor not a technical man to understand development.

    • 3
      0

      Basil a prolific builder? hahahahaha………………he was a prolific thief.

  • 21
    7

    The racist who burnt the Jaffna library and encouraged the 83 pogrom
    ? JFK indeed.

    • 8
      5

      He went to Nuwara Eliya and Nuwara Eliya was in flames in 1983. About Development projects initiated by him, even if Mahaweli flowed into his 5th lane house he at least did some productive projects unlike Gota

    • 15
      7

      The racists who burnt down the Jaffna Labrary and who initiated the 83 pogram are more likely to be Proabhakan and his terrorist allies in the LTTE. Thankfully they have been eliminated. Dissanayake is no saint; being accused of taking huge kickbacks, something Pelpola did not mention.

      • 7
        1

        lal loo

        “The racists who burnt down the Jaffna Labrary and who initiated the 83 pogram are more likely to be Proabhakan and his terrorist allies in the LTTE.”

        Would you like to be in the War Crime investigating commission/courts?

  • 15
    7

    Palitha Pelpola

    Bob Kennedy was never accused of burning down Jaffna library.

    He never had a brother in law called Dr. Wickrema Weerasooria. Bobby’s brother in law never owned a company named Finco.

    One journalist reported to have quipped “The benefits of the Mahaweli Mega Project does not flow into Trinco – but to Finco”

    Bob Kennedy was certainly not the 6th richest man in Asia and didn’t own an apple orchard in Australia.

    Bobby Kennedy did not refer upcountry Tamils as “ticks in the body of our dogs”.

    Bobby Kennedy did not say “it will take Indians 45 minutes to come from Bangalore. It will take us half that time to finish off the Tamils”

    Bobby didn’t warn Tamils with his “eye for an eye” speech during the riots against them.

    Bobby would have condemned the burning of library and two riots.

    Bobby would not have passed information regarding cabinet decisions to Hindia.

    Basil was certainly not Bobby’s under study.

    Bobby didn’t unleash violence against Tamils during DDC elections.

    • 7
      11

      What is Jaffna library?

      Mahaweli was more important.

      • 7
        2

        Rizwan

        “What is Jaffna library?”

        Donkey loves to eat wall posters. Does it know the difference between wall paper and printed books?

        “Mahaweli was more important”

        Maybe, maybe not.

        How does a donkey know the value of Mahaweli?

        • 0
          4

          So, All the South indian history was burned ?

          Bharathanatyam disappeared from earth ?

          Seelapatikaram disappeared from earth ?

          • 4
            0

            jim softy the Dimwit

            “So, All the South indian history was burned ? Bharathanatyam disappeared from earth ? Seelapatikaram disappeared from earth ?”

            Does it matter to a an ass whether it chews Silapathikaram or Mahawamsa?

            Why does an ass get angry?

      • 6
        6

        I mean….what was in that Jaffna library?…..3,000 year old Ola leaves that said that Sri Lanka was 100% Tamil? Never mind. Let’s all declare ourselves Tamil, and continue speaking Sinhalese.

    • 5
      1

      Bobby Kennedy has become the standard for good politicains of our yankee bootlickers now?

      These amudayas probably don’t know of Bobby Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick incident and the name Mary Jo Kopechne.

      How blissful is life as a frog in the well! God help us.

      • 9
        2

        Sena Veddagala

        “These amudayas probably don’t know of Bobby Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick incident and the name Mary Jo Kopechne.”

        Stupid Sena it was his kid brother Edward Moore ‘Ted’Kennedy who was implicated in Chappaquiddick incident.

        Check your facts before you start typing.

      • 1
        0

        You are the frog in the well. It was Sen. Ted Kennedy who was involved in the Chappaquiddick incident. God help you.

    • 1
      0

      @Native Vedda:

      “Bob Kennedy was never accused of burning down a library. “

      This is what exactly went through my mind when I read the title of this article first time.

  • 15
    6

    Gamini Dissanayake, The Miracle-Maker; The Robert Kennedy Of Sri Lanka – you must be bloody joking!!!

    Robert Kennedy fought for the rights of the minorities in the U.S., and this racist scum of Sri Lanka called Gamini Dissanayake came down to Jaffna with that other hoodlum called Cyril Matthew and gave a great gift to the Tamils………….burnt down the wonderful monument, the JAFFNA Library and went onto ransack and loot the entire downtown Jaffna shops also known as the New Market with about 200 rowdies in police uniforms from the south. Stop insulting the great Robert Kennedy by comparing this filthy rascal to such a great man of the U.S. Premadasa called out this bastard’s name in the parliament when he became the president of the country. This scoundrel died under a great circumstance, and I hope he died a very slow but a very painful death.

  • 21
    3

    I list some facts that I am aware to let the readers judge whether Gamini Dissanayake was what the author claims him to be:

    1. His role in the fraudulent district council elections in Jaffna and the burning of the Jaffna public library.
    2. His role in the 1983 riots. He rushed to Bremer-JRJ’s house where many prominent Tamils were sheltered-to demand stern action against the Tamils at the height of the riots.
    3. He held close door meetings on the Mahaweli project and some colonization schemes excluding very senior Tamil officers.
    4. His role in plundering for profit during the implementation of the Mahaweli scheme.
    5. The Australian apple orchards he was accused of owning.

    Dr.RN

    • 3
      17

      He was a great SL leader. This is the type of leaders we need today.

      SL is much more than Tamils.

      Madras library is sufficient.

      • 7
        3

        thoppi pirate, thank you.
        your mecca is in saudi and that is place of abode so arrenge to bring down the minarets where you howl with the moon.
        British library and museum the very best you dont need one.

      • 11
        1

        @Rizwan

        Why do you hide behind a muslim name you coward.

    • 2
      1

      Dr R Narendra,

      1)”His role in the fraudulent district council elections in Jaffna and the burning of the Jaffna public library.”

      Kumar Ponnambalam had openly said that Gamini was not involved in the burning of the Jaffna library. Cyril Mathew yes. I personally came to know a few of the chaps who were involved in this attack later on. None of them mentioned Gaminis name. They all mentioned Cyril Mathews name.

      2)”His role in the 1983 riots. He rushed to Bremer-JRJ’s house where many prominent Tamils were sheltered-to demand stern action against the Tamils at the height of the riots.”

      Did you hear from any of the Tamils who were staying with JRJ at that time.If not this could very well be a rumor.

      3)”He held close door meetings on the Mahaweli project and some colonization schemes excluding very senior Tamil officers”

      Settling of the sinhala people in the present day Eastern Province (Boundaries demarcated by the British for administrative purposes)
      may very well be colonization schemes for Tamils like you. They are very much sinhala resettlement schemes for the sinhalese. After Great D S Senanyake,it was Gamini Dissanayake who settled most number of sinhalese in the North Central and Eastern Provice. Tamil elite was very much in favour of bumping off Lalith and Gamini and making the sinhala people leaderless. You did this for some time but ultimately paved the way for a person like MR to get into power.

      4)”His role in plundering for profit during the implementation of the Mahaweli scheme.” Not uncommon in the developing world. His positives for the sinhala community was far more.

      5)”The Australian apple orchards he was accused of owning.”
      Utter rubbish. Rumors partly due to jealousies.

      • 2
        0

        Ravi Perera,

        My uncle was sheltered in Bremer and he told me what happened in all its nauseating details.

        A senior Tamil official – whom I trust – involved with the Mahaweli scheme told me that aspect of what I have listed. It was apparently a cloak and dagger operation to create Sinhala settlements between the North and East.

        The role of GD in the District Development Council election vote rigging and subsequent burning of the Jaffna Library was quite well known at that time. Kumar Ponnambalam, who called Neelan Thiruchelvam an engine room boy, is not the most reliable source. There is an ongoing attempt to blame the LTTE for burning the library. Many say Gamini Lokuge was also present and some valuable books were looted and taken to the South before the library was burnt. A Commission of Inqiury should be instituted to investigate this incident.

        Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

        • 2
          1

          Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

          I assure you that Ravi Perera (the Sinhala speaking Demela) will tell/repeat you his imagined version of the incident if you happened to meet him 20 years from now in this forum.

          Ravi Perera (the Sinhala speaking Demela) types:

          “Cyril Mathew yes. I personally came to know a few of the chaps who were involved in this attack later on. None of them mentioned Gaminis name. They all mentioned Cyril Mathews name.”

          If he believed in this he should have informed the right authorities to take actions against those cultural terrorists, nazi goons, barbarians, the Sinhala/Buddhists, ……….. or protested against those who were suspected of being involved in this disgrace act.

          Now Ravi Perera (the Sinhala speaking Demela) accuses Cyril Mathew who was already an established unpopular thug among Sinhalese in order to save Dutta Gamini’s bum. Cyril Mathew had had his army of goons (within JSS trade union and outside) and policemen, who usually beat up striking members of other unions during his hey days, 1977 – 1984.

          Even the super racist JR couldn’t tolerate Mathew whom he sacked in 1984.

          Ravi Perera (the Sinhala speaking Demela) seems to know a few details about those thugs, it is time he investigated the men and found out where the stolen books are being stored.

        • 1
          0

          Dr Rajasingham Narendran,

          “My uncle was sheltered in Bremer and he told me what happened in all its nauseating details.”

          This is a huge shock for me. I would have thought Gamini would be a lot more diplomatic than this. (He was my favorite in JRJ’s cabinet,though Lalith was the favorite of most Sinhalese people.

          Kumar Ponnambalam became a well known LTTE supporter and a strong anti sinhala man. I wonder why he would openly say that Gamini was not involved in the burning of the Jaffna library.

          • 1
            0

            ravi perera the Sinhala speaking Demela

            “Kumar Ponnambalam became a well known LTTE supporter and a strong anti sinhala man.”

            My Elders who had met him a few times found him an amicable man without malice towards another human being. He never accepted your brethren VP as his national leader nor had he supported Thamil Eelam.

            In fact he was for peaceful settlement of the on going conflict.

            Kumar Ponna wrote this article where he explains his position on solution:

            The Only Possible Solution
            by Kumar Ponnambalam

            The only possible solution to the Tamil National problem

            The island is burning. The country is bleeding. Most of us are fiddling some of us are tinkering. Is this fair? Is this human? The cause of this state of affairs is the Tamil National Problem. Nothing else. And this has to be appreciated, first and foremost. There cannot be anything else to distract us from this situation.

            What is this Tamil National Problem? It is the demand the people living traditionally in the North and East of the island, wanting to live, once again, with self respect and dignity and with safety and peace, which conditions they enjoyed a few centuries ago when they ran their own affairs in their own kingdom and when they had sovereignty. This people are the Tamils, of the NorthEast who have always been a distinct and separate Nation, in the most correct sense of the political content, a student of politics will attach to the concept of Nationhood.

            Kumar Ponnambalam
            This Tamil National Problem has been there since this country gained independence from its last colonial masters, the British in 1947. The Tamils allege that when the Britishers left the shores fifty years ago, the Britishers handed over sovereignty to the majority Sinhala people and, therefore, they attained independence whilst they did not give back to the Tamils the sovereignty the Tamils enjoyed before the colonial masters came, and, instead, placed the Tamils completely at the mercy of the Sinhalese.

            It is because the Tamils were placed under the Sinhalese that led to a lot of trouble starting with the Citizenship Act of 1948 and up to the present day with the President of Sri Lanka Kumaratunga saying, soon as she took office on 12th November 1994 and reading from a prepared script in her Address to the Nation, “We will ensure that our approach to peace will fully address the necessity to safeguard and strengthen the rights of the Sinhala people, whilst recognising dignity self-respect and equality of treatment of all communities,” thereby suggesting that only the Sinhalese have rights and no others, and over and over again that Sri Lanka is Sinhala land; that Sri Lanka is Buddhist country; that Sri Lanka is one nation with one people; and just now, that the Tamils are not the original people of the country[see http://www.sangam.org/NEWSEXTRA ‘Chandrika Kumaratunge in South Africa – A Video Clip’]. With this type of racist Sinhala sentiments being lavishly thrown about, what can the self-respecting and dignified Tamils do but to want to live separately from the Sinhalese who want to treat the Tamils as slaves or; as best, only as second class citizens?

            With this type of racist Sinhala sentiments staring in the face of the Tamils, the Tamils have first to establish their rightful place in this island. That a certain quarter of the island belongs rightfully to the Tamils, whether the Sinhalese like it or not. That the Tamils are a distinct and separate people who constitute a Nation under any and every conceivable political theory. And because the Tamils are a distinct and separate nation, they have attached to them, the inalienable right to self-determination, which fact is also conceded by political philosophy.

            To establish these positions even a war is going on in this country today between an army belonging to the Sinhala people and the Tamil youth in the name of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) – the pride of the Tamil people. As far as the Tamils are concerned, this is a sacred war. It is a sacred war because the Tamils are seeking to establish their aspirations by this war and to put an end to Sinhala domination. That is why the war is looked upon as a war for liberation and the LTTE is seen as a liberation movement and acclaimed as liberators.

            The LTTE has been carrying on this war for close upon fifteen years against the might of a trained conventional army, possessed of hi-tech military hardware and the well-known support of foreign countries, in kind and in knowhow. This has prompted the CWC leader, S. Thondaman, to eulogise that the LTTE is the recipient of divine grace.

            The aspirations of the Tamils are now contained in a well- phrased document known as the Thimpu Principles. It is a document which contains just four principles. It was made public on 12th July 1985 at Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan, by six Tamil political parties. The six Tamil parties were the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO), the Eelam Research Organisation of Students (EROS) , the Peoples Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), the Eelam Peoples Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

            The four principles are:-

            1. The Tamil People are a separate and distinct Nation,

            2. There is a traditional homeland of the Tamils,

            3. The Tamils have the inalienable right to self-determination, and

            4. All those who want to make this island their home must be given all democratic and human rights. (This Principle brings out the principle of equality).

            When the six Tamil political parties put forward the Thimpu Principles, they did so as ‘The Delegation of the Tamil People’ and went further and said that any solution to the Tamil National Problem can only be on the basis of the Thimpu Principles. What is more, this is the last official political document to which the LTTE has affixed its signature.

            What is most interesting to know is what is the position of the TULF, TELO, EROS, PLOTE, EPRLF, and now the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP), (which was not in existence in 1985), today as regards the Thimpu Principles. Are they still upholding the Thimpu Principles or have they debunked them or have they put those principles into cold storage or have they made any variations to the Thimpu Principles? It is about time that these Tamil Political Parties show their hands on these Principles today.

            It is very important to know the position of the Tamil Political parties on the Thimpu Principles today because all, or some of them, are party to an exercise today by the People Alliance (PA) Government to evolve a system of government in the name of a devolution package or peace proposals which either go completely counter to some of the Thimpu Principles or do not consider the other principles!

            True, the J. R. Jayawardene Government would not hear of the Thimpu Principles in 1985, but much water has flowed under the bridge since them. The Thimpu Principles are too sacred a matter and too serious a matter for anybody who is serious about a solution to the Tamil National Problem to conveniently ignore or to forget about. Therefore, it is incumbent on the Tamil Political Parties, at least, to steadfastly hold on to them. In this respect, the LTTE has stated its position not only on 27th November 1997 in Prabhakaran’s Mahaveerar speech, but also in early September 1998 in the letter he addressed to President Nelson Mandela just before the Non-Aligned Movement Summit, that the LTTE will consider any peace initiative that is evolved on the basis of the Thimpu Principles.

            Therefore, if we are to go on the basis that the LTTE is absolutely essential for a solution to the Tamil National Problem, it is clear that they will settle only for something on the basis of the Thimpu Principles. This position also shows that the LTTE will not accept the devolution package or peace proposals of the PA Government. Therefore, there would be no point talking henceforth about what the PA has done.

            Obviously the PA Government has realised that its devolution package is a dead letter because the architect or it all, Prof. G. L. Pieris, has officially handed over the efforts to find a solution to the Tamil National Problems to the private sector, by his speech at the BMICH, at the first sittings of the meeting, convened by the leaders of the private sector on 22nd October 1998. He, more than anybody else, will realise that it would make a mockery of the efforts to find the solution to the Tamil National Problem if the PA Government now wants to resurrect the devolution package because surely two parallel forces cannot be seen to be tackling this subject.

            Therefore, the private sector will have to realise immediately that if it means business, it will have to take up the Thimpu Principles in a very big way. Then it must forget that whilst the Tamil Political Parties has put forward the Thimpu Principles, that they must find out what the position of the Sinhala Political Parties are on the Thimpu Principles. It is not enough, henceforth, in any exercise to find a solution to the Tamil National Problem, to bank heavily on what the UNP or SLFP have to say on anything. The track record of both these parties are so very poor on this matter that the Tamils, and surely the LTTE, will never again go on what they say. So it will be important to find out what the MEP, JVP, LSSP, CP, NSSP and DUNF have to say on the Thimpu Principles.

            If a common Sinhala position can be obtained on the Thimpu Principles,on the basis of what has been decided, be prepared to go to the Table to discuss further. If they are of the opinion that there is no point going to the Table to talk, then surely the search for a solution is at an end. But if the LTTE chooses to go to the Table on what the Sinhala Political Parties have to say on the Thimpu Principles, then surely there will be a light at the end of the tunnel and at this stage the facilitator or mediator or third party which is acceptable to the Sinhalese and the LTTE can move into action.

            Source: The Weekend Express – Saturday, November 7 – Sunday, November 8, 1998
            http://www.sangam.org/
            articles/view/?id=364

  • 6
    2

    The man behind the burning of Jaffna linrar !! Who foreseen !! Witnessed !! Along with another minister !! Cyril Mathew !!

  • 10
    5

    his racist motivating speeches are the most venomous and humiliation for Tamils. His participation in burning the Jaffna library is unforgivable. It is a part of the Tamil genocidal program and agenda . Such an educated minister the key for burning the Tamil cultural foundation. his thirst for power and wealth pushed him into the whirlpool of killings

  • 3
    19

    Mr.Palitha Pelpola I WHOLE HEARTEDLY AGREE WITH ON YUR ARTICLE ABOUT LATE GAMINI DISSANAYAKAE. I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHETHER WERE YOU AT AQUINAS UNIVERSITY COLLEGE IN 1970/1971,PLEASE GET IN TOUCH WITH ME.

    REGARDS

    SIVA

    • 2
      1

      Siva

      WHOLE HEATEDLY?

      Where is your Gnanam? In the crematorium of Gamini?

      I will not agree even lightheartedly.

      I do not agree with him being killed by the LTTE but Gamini is a blot in the prejudicial hate history of Sri Lanka.

      Even in death he should not be honored.

  • 16
    3

    ‘Gamini Dissanayake, The Miracle-Maker; The Robert Kennedy Of Sri Lanka’- WHAT A BIG JOKE.

    Gamini Dissanayake was a downright anti-Tamil racist who did all the dastardly things to eliminate the Tamils from the soil of Sri Lanka.

    His contribution to eliminate the Tamils in the 1983 state sponsored anti-Tamil violence is unforgettable. He barged into to President JRJ residence during the peak of the troubles and demanded that the Tamils should be eliminated.

    I am prepared to give first hand account to Palitha Pelpola about Gamini if he needs further input with evidence on Gamini’s ugly crusade against the Tamils.

  • 3
    14

    Lovely tribute. The last para soars.

  • 13
    4

    What an insult to Robert Kennedy!

  • 7
    2

    A big difference here – Robert Kennedy did not need sychophants and bootlickers to perpetuate his name.

  • 9
    2

    Gamini Dissanayake- great education ,great capability, and at the same time great chauvinist and racist bigot. Sadly, all in the same package.

    • 8
      0

      The best description of Gamini: A pot of kiri-pani with a little dung added.

    • 14
      0

      Old Codger,

      A great opportunist who learnt to play the communal card extremely well from his elders! JRJ had a whole raft of them in his cabinet.

      Dr.RN

  • 13
    2

    You must be joking!

    How did he get so much of wealth . A lawyer without a practice… How did he own a the property in 5th lane colpetty and the mansion in Alfred Gardens next to the British Council!

    What a comparison of Kennedy.

    Srima

    • 1
      4

      In South Asia the only way to judge a good politician is by his legacy he has left behind. It is almost understood that there will be some form of corruption especially since most leave office extremely wealthy. The exceptional ones will never get involved but this is very rare. I believe this apply to Mr. Gamani Dissanayake too. Therefore, I believe we should look beyond what they personally gained and consider what they did for the country. I hope one day we will reach the point when we do have a perfect system

  • 4
    1

    When the army and the Police went beserk in in 1981 in Jaffna JR Jayewardena took the opportunity to have the Jaffna library, the archives of which contained information on his ancestry and his antecedents, destroyed. The burning was was witnessed by three cabinet ministers. Gamini Dissnayake, soon after, had this to say in Parliament: “We do not wish to minimise in any way the gravity of what has been done, the untold damage the untold damage that has been done…….I saw it and I was shocked…….these police officers have run beserk.. ….I am sorry for the the violence that was perpetrated in the Jaffna peninsula . I think we are all responsible.” Bensen

  • 1
    1

    When the army and the Police went beserk in in 1981 in Jaffna JR Jayewardena took the opportunity to have the Jaffna library, the archives of which contained information on his ancestry and his antecedents, destroyed. The burning was was witnessed by three cabinet ministers. Gamini Dissnayake, soon after, had this to say in Parliament: “We do not wish to minimise in any way the gravity of what has been done, the untold damage that has been done…….I saw it and I was shocked…….these police officers have run beserk.. ….I am sorry for the the violence that was perpetrated in the Jaffna peninsula . I think we are all responsible.” Bensen

  • 9
    10

    Surely, Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayake were well educated and talented ministers. I don’t think Gamini Dissanayake masterminded to burn the Jaffna public library. I believe that this terrible act done by someone who doesn’t believe in education, but blamed it on Gamini Dissanayake to undermine his people support. The LTTE assassinated Prime ministers, politicians, government servants, journalists, academics and religious figures. They all were great-loss to Sri Lanka and to the world.

    If we have educated others how discrimination will lead to adverse affects to people as African Americans had done, we could have saved many leaders and intellectuals. On top of that we would not have gone through sufferings for three decades, and losing precious lives. According to the civil rights leader “March on Washington” was a great success. One of the journalists asked why, was the dream speech by MLK Jr? Civil rights leader said “It was a good speech, but nobody has died today that is why I call it success.” I wish Tamil leaders understand what is success.

    The LTTE had assassinated political leaders, government servants, military officers, police officers and academics far more than Al-Qaeda? Why Tamil diaspora leaders, the UN, and human rights organisations kept silence? Here are the leaders the LTTE had assassinated. This list doesn’t have provincial councillors, local councillors, other politicians, military officers, police officers, civil servants, journalists, academics and religious figures.

    Rajiv Gandhi, Ranasinghe Premadasa, Lalith Athulathmudali, D. M. Dassanayake, Gamini Dissanayake, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, C. V. Gunaratne, Lakshman Kadirgamar, Weerasinghe Mallimarachchi, G. M. Premachandra, Ranjan Wijeratne, Ossie Abeygunasekara, A. L. Abdul Majeed, M. Alalasundaram, A. Amirthalingam, Nadarajah Atputharajah (alias Ramesh) M. Canagaratnam, A. Chandranehru, V. Dharmalingam, Alfred Duraiappah, M. E. H. Maharoof, T. Maheshwaran, Joseph Pararajasingham. Shantha Kumara Punchihewa, Kingsley Rasanayagam, Nadarajah Raviraj, S. Shanmuganathan, S. Sivamaharajah, K. Sivanesan, Nimalan Soundaranayagam, Sam Tambimuttu, A. Thiagarajah, A. Thangathurai, Neelan Tiruchelvam, Gamini Wijesekara, G. Yogasangari, V. Yogeswaran.

  • 1
    0

    Interesting article . Could the author please tell us about the all important secretary to the late Minister , known to have had the outrageous habit of resting his feet on his desk at the ministry ! Such was the power he then wielded .

  • 3
    1

    The man !! Who foreseen !! Witnessed !! Along with another minister !! Cyril Mathew !! Burning The Library Of Jaffna !! The pride Tamils !! Media offices !! Political party office !! Residence of the then member of parliament !!

  • 10
    1

    There is absolutely no doubt on GD’s involvement in the library burning. Let us not absolve him of that. He was also one of the first Sri Lankans to institutionalise mass corruption, the likes of what we are seeing today. Many Tamils (Muslims and Kandyans like the author) (may) benefited from him (business and personal)and they are entitled to be personally grateful for that. But don’t make it into a joke by converting him to a great statesman.

    A man more responsible for today’s plight in relation to corruption and misgovernance than anyone in the recent past. People can be personally grateful for the things he has done; but to publicly praise someone who is widely believed to have been corrupt, indulged in political violence against minorities and burnt the Jaffna Library is wrong. That sends a wrong message to the future generations.

  • 14
    0

    Palitha Pelpola must have an old favour to return.

    Gamini Dissanayake was a smart and competent administrator. However, as a politician he was devious and disruptive, and lacked basic human decency when he was put to the test. He readily became part of the nationalist rabble that pandered to the lowest common denominator of the time. His visceral and corrosive approach to communal matters put him at the forefront of the disgraceful events that culminated in the Black July of 1983. He played a full part in the events that brought death, destruction, and, untold and unnecessary misery to every one of our Tamil brethren.

    It is always sad, when someone, who has enjoyed the best of education, and was capable of good, is found wanting. Gamini Dissanayake let us all down. It is a shame that his memory will forever be smirched by the evil that manifested in his actions.

    The writer lets himself down, and does the memory of Robert Kennedy a great disservice, by making this totally inappropriate comparison.

    • 5
      0

      Good, sharp comment Spring Koha! Thanks.

  • 2
    0

    it Should be in Dallas, TX. there is no city called Dulles in Texas. Editors should check these before publishing an article

  • 11
    2

    Burning the Jaffna public library was the biggest crime against humanity. The Yahaplana should also have a Commission to investigate this crime. The people who supported this crime with Gamini Dissanayake was the member of Parliment Gamini Perera,Cyril Mathew Wickrama Weerasuriya,Palitha Pelpola and several of his supporters from the Mahaweli Ministry.

    The Yahaplana government should investigate all the illegal financial dealing made by this rogue. The former President J.R.Jayawardena stated at a private party “Looks like all the Mahaweli funds are flowing to 5th Lane.”

    Rukmani

  • 14
    1

    Comparing Gamini Dissanayake to Robert Kennedy… I would agree with your comparison!

    Both Gamini Dissanayake and Robert Kennedy were womanizers and immoral causing much pain to their wives. Gamini’s wife Sirima tried to commit suicide several times because of his disgraceful behavior.

    Palitha was the poor clerk from Lever Brothers who was the pimp.

    Rangani

    • 3
      4

      Guy looks like a dream-boat…..I mean, if he was able to re-habilitate nearly a million people, we can forgive the social flaws a bit….. poor lady all the same.

      • 5
        0

        NO, Ramona.

        I cannot let your comment pass.

        ””we can forgive the social flaws a bit….

        WE cannot, must NOT, forgive the social flaws that led to so much evil and misery. Gamini came from a good home and enjoyed a good education. The excellent school he attended would surely have taught him right from wrong. He was able to influence his peers and do good. In his selfish quest for power HE chose actions that destroyed the lives of many. HE was ultimately a deeply flawed man. Let us leave forgiveness to the Gods. Let us remind all, those who came after, that evil is not a career option. WE fondly remember good, WE CANNOT glorify those that sowed misery.

        • 3
          0

          Spring Koha old chap

          I suspect you have some sort of crush on ramona grandma therese fernando.

          Does she remind you of your old flame?

          • 2
            0

            Native Vedda

            Ho ho ho I cannot for the life of me imagine what Grandma Ramona looks like so I cannot confirm if she is anything like the many delightful houris who have, alas, left me heart broken.

            • 0
              0

              Hrmmph…..

            • 2
              0

              Spring Koha

              “I cannot confirm if she is anything like the many delightful houris who have, alas, left me heart broken.”

              Because, you didn’t have a Harley-Davidson or James Dean hair style, probably you couldn’t shake your hip like Elvis, play a trumpet like Herb Alpert of Tijuana Brass, ……

              I am only guessing.

              Or settled down with love of your life.

        • 4
          0

          Spring Koha

          “WE CANNOT glorify those that sowed misery.”

          And 95,000 destroyed books at the Jaffna library.

          • 3
            0

            Native Vedda

            Every book in the home I was brought up in was deemed sacred.

            As you may have gathered by now, I reserve my choicest epithets for the bastards associated with the act of damaging or destroying the Jaffna Library. Having a better than good knowledge of the key participants at that time, and on the balance of probabilities, there is no doubt in my mind of those who must have committed (or knew of and did nothing to prevent) one of the worst crimes committed in our blessed land.

            95,000 destroyed books was 94.999 too many.

            • 2
              2

              But the truth is, irrespective of his bad ways, GD still resettled nearly a million Lankans, and developed a self-sustaining economy for the area.

              Hope only that his blue/green colonial-blood eyes wouldn’t have made him delusional about Mahavamsa (yes, we know those type of Sinhalese), thus ruining the legitimacy of authentic Sinhalese throughout the Island.

            • 2
              3

              As per Jaffna library….all other cultures that had ancient libraries, actually read the books. They ingrained the book contains into their psyche of their masses, and evolved within the contexts of space and time.

              Jaffna library, on the other hand sat with a few elite high-caste intellectuals, reveling in, and par excellencing their own works. Caste–system was rigorously implemented further to fulfill the intellectualism in the books.

              (a recent undertaking actually..1933..save for an ancient ola-leaf or two that said the whole world was Tamil….well, that ancient oracle was obviously crazily indulging in his own culture and didn’t want to know anything else)

              Low-castes must have been angry with the status-quo from a long time, and when ND came around, he managed to instigate them to think : “at least with the Sinhalese, we might have some dignity.” ND was the blue-eyed god come to save them from eternal slavery!

              Moral of the story : One must never worship books, but care for People instead!

  • 3
    0

    Well, I would be doing some injustice to CT folks if I do not contribute my two cents.

    Person (lawyer) who was renting a room at Siripa road, informing the cab driver that he did not have any business today in courts, rising up to a position where JRJ commented, I know that you are rich, but didn’t know that you are This Rich.

    Mahaweli was started by Mr. N G Panditharatna (Chairman of UNP)and at that time the Minister used to come to the Mahaveli Authority; after a while NGP got so frustrated with the Government and resigned, thereby paving the way to the Minister.

    The day I saw GD with the top hat in front of Maha Sanga (some ceremony) I went from + to – -.

    During his time, Mahaveli was everywhere, except the poor farmer getting the pittance out of it (for e.g. Rs. 100.00 Mahaveli got the farmer get only Rs. 5.00. Authority was full of his men, practically doing nothing.. this includes Palita P as well (if he remembers). All those had the privilege of using two Mahaweli cars (one for him and the other for their family); even their phone (personal)bills were reimbursed by the Authority.

    On pay days, it was a havoc, some accusing the other.. how come you get so much, when I do much etc. since the pay sheet was available to all. Accounts Department, then invented a special pay sheet, just showing only the net balance for them to sign(violating FR, since Mahaveli was all that mighty up to the extent of making a Man into a Woman.

    Yes, he was miracle man; Asgiriya grounds was ours; pronto a check from Mahaveli, if I’m not mistaken. Our cricketers like Warnapura, Lalith Kaluperuma was axed forever (ban of 20 yrs, again I believe, considering their playing capacity, for the South African tour they made to make a little money at that time.

    During that election time where he got unprecedented votes, most of the Mahaveli employees were on Full time election duty in Nuwaraeliya, raking unlimited over time and Bata, in addition to their salaries.

    About Palitha P, again I believe, the only qualification he had was the song he created about our Madam Sirima Bandaranayaka during 1977 election campaign.

    Workers were extremely happy to have a ride with him in the elevator( as he calls them, in spite of the lift operators No No) as the perfume he used lingers for a long time, after his exit. A foreign (white lady) who had come for some business was introduced to him by the then Timber Corporation Chairman was so embarrassed by remark GD made …hey you have that work to know, you can go.

  • 1
    0

    Mr. Gamini dissanayake had a Apple Orchard in australia

    What happened to that ?

    • 1
      0

      Went rotten!

  • 6
    0

    Palitha Pelpola has just opened a BIG can of worms with this silly article of his.Now the stench is bigger.

  • 2
    0

    Why did Palitha P stop at Robert Kennedy. He could have
    said GD was like John F. Kennedy. Who is this toady trying
    to fool.

    With all the stink, I would still say GD had some substance
    in him. He was well read and gentlemanly at most times.

    What about his illustrious son Navin, the wheeler dealer. He
    is NO MATCH on the father. He is not only thriving with what
    the father left behind but making more.

    Will it take another CID or FCID to probe his villanies?

  • 1
    0

    GAMINI LOOKS A PRETTY BOY
    MUST BE COMING FROM A V HOSPITABLE KANDYAN FAMILY

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 300 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically shut off on articles after 10 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.